Turning on the Talent Pipeline

By Marissa Pietrobono

When we speak of a Talent Pipeline, thought leaders recognize that every part of that dynamic and diverse delivery system is critical to a vibrant and robust economy. The pipeline is not only filled by young people who go straight from high school off to college; it is also made up of veterans who are reentering the workforce after serving their country overseas, or the single parent who realizes building a better life for themselves and their children is up to them.

For more than 40 years, David Ruggieri, the President and CEO of Florida Technical College, serving more than 3000 students on seven campuses, has been making the dreams and ambitions of his graduates come to fruition. “The satisfaction that came from working with people who really didn’t have a clue, to actually finding a career was like nothing else I’ve ever found,” he beams, adding his now familiar mantra, “Education is the great equalizer. Essentially, without an education or a degree, a person is at the mercy of whom ever might hire them. But with an education you can help level the playing field; you have as much power as the employer because you have a marketable skill they want and need.”

After he was discharged from the Air Force in San Diego, California in the early 70’s, Ruggieri was looking more for a job than an actual career. He heard about a teaching opportunity at a trade and technical school that ran 24 hours a day, and opted for it. What he didn’t know at the time was that his temporary job would turn into his life mission, proving himself passionate about navigating people down the right path to finding what they want to do in life. “Something happened to me there as I talked to them, heard their stories and saw their hopes and anxiety. I honestly thought, ‘Let me see if I can help out here. I could probably do this for year, it would be like joining the Peace Corp.’ After a year I would feel good about myself I thought…That was over 40 years ago.”

The College

Florida Technical College (FTC) sports seven campuses located throughout Florida, in Orlando, Kissimmee, Deland, Lakeland, Pembroke Pines and Greater Miami’s Cutler Bay. FTC also owns and operates the DAVESCHOOL at Universal Orlando as well as La Salle Computer Learning Center in Tampa. They offer 30 programs ranging from certificate diplomas to Bachelor’s Degrees, giving students various opportunities and options for career training to help further their career, or lift them into starting a new one.

Many students have found FTC online in pursuit of a school that offers programs that spark their interest, offers flexibility with scheduling, and opportunity to make a living in a career they want after receiving their degree. The Kissimmee campus accolades include “engaging its students, faculty and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community,” leading to the campus being named on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll multiple times.

FTC, though not a faith-based institution, has won the Inter-Faith Award, which only 99 colleges have won, due to their students working with the homeless through church related organizations every other Saturday. They fed 400-500 people and provided haircuts for homeless people, and in turn received the honor. Ruggieri says, “Whenever I go to a graduation. I look around and see three or four hundred graduates and maybe three thousand people there to celebrate. It hits me that for many of our students, this is the first cap and gown they have worn with a real sense of pride and accomplishment.”

New Programs

Since 1982, Florida Technical College has been providing private, post-secondary education in specialized fields, and is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. The college offers associate and bachelor’s degrees and a wide range of diploma programs for numerous professions, giving students the opportunities to find their niche and develop the skills they need to succeed. Listed below are some exciting new programs FTC is offering.

The Plumbing Diploma Program prepares students with the technical and practical knowledge needed to make the installation tasks, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair of plumbing systems in residences, commercial, and industries. Graduates from this program will be able to fill positions as a Plumbing Helper in residential and construction firms in the plumbing trade industry.

The Welding Diploma Program offers the technical and practical knowledge needed to interpret manufacturing drawings and construction blueprints, calculate measures, as well as bend, cut, grind, and weld ferrous and nonferrous metals. Students will learn Shield Metal Arc, Gas-Metal Arc, Flux Core Arc, Gas-Tungsten Arc, and pipe welding.

The Welding program is classroom based, with a combination of lecture and lab. The program will prepare a student for entrylevel employment in the field of welding. Graduates from this program will be able to fill positions as an Electrician Helper in residential and construction firms in the electrical trade industry.

The Electrical Diploma Program prepares the student with the technical skills and practical knowledge and skills to perform installation tasks, service and repairs in the electrical trade. Graduates from this program will be able to fill positions as an Electrician Helper in residential and construction firms in the electrical trade industry.

The new Associate of Science Medical Assistant Program witha Basic Machine Operator (BMO)track enables students to get a limited X-raylicense in Florida. The programs runs for 18months, and graduates will be able to workdirectly under a physician, registered nurse,registered technologist, office manager ora radiology administrator. Graduates of this program will also be able to work in various hospital settings, urgent care facilities,orthopedic clinics, radiology centers and more.

FTC is now accredited by the largest professional and most important chefs group in North America, the American Culinary Federation Foundation. The Culinary Arts and Baking and Pasteleria Diploma Program blends in-class lectures, theory mastery and hands-on practices. Graduates of the program will receive an ACFEF Certified Culinarian Certificate in addition to their diplomas. The program allows for many opportunities to work in hotels,resorts, timeshares, restaurants, theme parks and cruises.